Friday, November 22, 2013

J.F.K. - 50th Anniversary

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 - 1963), 35th President of the United States
Portrait by Aaron Shikler

Today, November 22nd, is the 50th Anniversary of that dreadful day in Dallas, Texas, when a gunman destroyed not only a President and his presidency but any remaining traces of innocence my generation might have harbored. The death of a young President, happening so horribly, was the very last thing any of us would have ever envisioned. It was not only the shock, you see, it was the idea; if a President could be gotten at, than who on earth was safe? The world was suddenly turned topsy-turvy in a most terrible, unexpected way.

Gone in the shock of a few moments was the 'Camelot' of our dreams, the soft-spoken elegant wife - no longer the First Lady, those adorable children we'd become so fond of, the dogs, the ponies, the vigorous Kennedy clan coming and going at the White House, the very idea of an exuberant America on the brink of something grand.

How could this happen? No wonder an anguished Walter Cronkite (the most respected television newsman in America) cried on the air. This was an event that defied the imagination.

Fifty years later, it was just yesterday. A few days ago.

I still occasionally ask: how could this happen?

I was startled recently when standing on line at the supermarket, I happened to glance at the front page of a tabloid flashing autopsy photos of President Kennedy. My initial reaction was outrage. It still is. What has happened to us? How can it be that so many think nothing of such a deviant invasion of privacy? The plundering of a murdered man's dignity. 

Along with assorted groceries, breath mints, potato chips and pictures of dim-witted celebrities, you're welcome to look at photos of a President's corpse.

Fifty years later.

How could this happen?

Watching the funeral in a shop window.
Chicago, November 1963

14 comments:

  1. Excellent and heartfelt post, Yvette.

    "What has happened to us?"

    Cynicism has turned those who mire themselves in it into monsters. And then the next generation comes along, and the next, and they don't know any better.

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  2. Thanks, Jacqueline. You are so right: 'They don't know any better.'

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  3. I agree Yvette. I agree with Jacqueline. It is, I think, a symptom of today's completely desensitized society. Nothing is sacred. Nothing seems to shock. Anything goes…
    Bye for now
    Kirk
    PS
    Apparently, on that day (or the next) as a few months old baby, I watched this event on T.V., sitting in my shocked Mother's lap.

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    1. You were a baby and I was already out in the world working. :)

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  4. Well said, Yvette,

    I remember the day as though it was last week. I was going to school on the other side of the world, so the news came to me as I awoke. Of course to the current generation, President Kennedy's assassination is as far removed as a 1913 assassination would have been to us in 1963. It feels so strange to realize that.

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    1. I suppose so, Mark. I always think that JFK's death was the 9/11 of our generation.

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  5. Interestingly I just read that the author C.S.Lewis died one hour before President Kennedy was assassinated.
    Kirk

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    1. Wow. Interesting. It seems though as if quite a few famous people died that year or just before or just after. Very strange.

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  6. Yvette, it seems that nothing is sacred anymore. Everything sells in this age of consumerism.

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    1. Unfortunately, you are right, Neer.

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  7. Only twice in the twenty years I knew my father did he cry - at the death of JFK and two years later when his own father died.

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    1. It was such a dreadful time, Nan. I remember crying almost constantly - especially during the funeral. I really do remember it as if it were yesterday.

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  8. I was in high school when this happened; we were all called to the auditorium and then sent home. Everyone was shocked and sad.

    The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a brutal blow to those working to achieve justice and equality. That event sent shock waves all over the country and the world.

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    1. Three major assassinations within just a few years of each other. It was an awful, turbulent time. Honestly sometimes I don't even know how the country held together - how we lived through all that grief and horror.

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